VRHA Weekly Update
In this Issue  October 31, 2016

VRHA News Virginia News National News Mark your calendar
Funding Opportunities


October Newsletter





And the Winners Are...

As part of the Annual Conference, the Virginia Rural Health Association set aside time on October 19th to recognize individuals and organizations who have demonstrated commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia.  And the 2016 VRHA Award Winners are:

Charles Crowder, Jr. Award - James L. Werth, Jr., Ph.D., ABPP
This award recognizes outstanding individual commitment and service to the advancement
of rural health in Virginia.

Best Practices in Rural Health Award - Health Efficiency Navigation Initiative
(Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital) 
This award is given to recognize a program or institution that exemplifies commitment and service to the advancement of rural health in Virginia.
Ken Studer Friend of the Association Award - Remote Area Medical
This award is given to recognize a program, institution or individual that has advocated for or    aided the Association in support of the Association’s mission.

Additionally - the  poster presentation "Southwest Virginia School-Based Co-Immunization Program Proposal to Reduce HPV-Related Cancer" was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for the work presented by UVA School of Nursing Students Sarah Church, Jenn Manes, Tess O'Connor, and Rachel Shaw.

You can also read about past honorees.

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Take the Survey!

On October 18th, VRHA hosted a kick-off meeting for the Virginia Rural Health Telecommunications Consortium.  VRHTC will be working with rural providers to help them receive discounts on their telecommunications services through the FCC/USAC Healthcare Connect Fund.

​Now we are asking all hospitals, FQHC, RHC, other clinics, SNFs, CSBs, and Schools of Nursing to complete the eligibility form so we can determine needs and gage interest in the consortium.

We encourage you to complete the survey even if you do not think you will join the consortium as VRHA will also use this information to compile a report for the Secretary of Technology.

Take the Survey!

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See the Slides

Presentation slides for the VRHA Conference are now posted in the "About our Sessions" section of the conference webpage.  Click the presentation title to view the slides.

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Virginia News

Healthy Rural Living

By Mark Peterson and Taylor Gee - Politico

One quarter of the population, but only 10 percent of physicians, lives in rural America. At the same time, rural residents are more likely to rely on food stamps, die in a car crash, and smoke tobacco. In rural areas, there are fewer specialists per person, more residents over the age of 65, and a significantly higher suicide rate. This disparity between health services and health needs may seem logistically unavoidable — its harder to serve a population that is thinly spread over a large area.

But in Western Virginia, a partnership between Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech, and the city of Roanoke is showing that living rurally and having access to quality healthcare are not mutually exclusive. The leaders of Roanoke Valley have put together a health network that would make a big city mayor envious, and this is how they did it.

View the full photo gallery.

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Caregiver Pay

Stephen Grammer would die without caregivers.The cerebral palsy that damaged his brain at birth makes it impossible for the 36-year-old to walk, feed himself or go to the bathroom on his own. Grammer spent most of his 20s in a nursing home with people four times his age. Now he’s able to live alone in an apartment because he has caregivers with him 16 hours a day.

But Grammer worries that his independence is in jeopardy because of a law passed by the General Assembly this year that prohibits many caregivers for disabled Virginians from being paid overtime.

Grammer’s concerns are echoed by advocates who say thousands of personal care assistants have less of an incentive to remain in difficult, low-paying jobs if they can’t supplement their incomes with overtime.

Read the full article.

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Expansion, Again

It’s a familiar theme, one that has played out over and over again. Democrats and Governor Terry McAuliffe say the best way to balance the books is taking money that comes with expanding Medicaid to 400,000 Virginians who live in poverty or with disabilities.
“How can we possibly be turning away $211 million annually for our budget? We can’t. We’ve got to stop the partisan politics. We need to do what’s right for the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia."
What’s different this year is that it’s playing out against a backdrop of mounting financial concerns. Over the last decade, Medicaid spending in Virginia increased 96 percent. That’s a $1.8 billion increase. Republican Delegate Dave Albo of Springfield says the state can’t afford to expand the program.
“We are $1.2 billion in the hole, and we don’t think it’s a good idea to obligate ourselves to another social program that will eventually cost us $700 million a year."

Read the full article, and related articles from the Daily Progress, NBC29, Daily Press, Martinsville Bulletin, and the News Virginian.

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National News

White House Rural Forum

On October 5, the White House hosted the Rural Forum, convening rural policy, business and nonprofit leaders and announcing new actions in support of rural America. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf lead discussions on pertinent issues facing rural communities, including opportunities for economic growth and strategies for improving health care and housing. Vilsack also urged lawmakers and the private sector, foundations and nonprofits to recognize opportunities in America’s rural communities to ensure continued social and economic progress.

Click here to review the fact sheet.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment 

By Elizabeth Whitman - Modern Healthcare

Over 21 million Americans live in rural counties where no physician is certified to prescribe buprenorphine, the main drug used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. Pilot projects will test ways to expand treatment options in these underserved areas. Cities and towns all over the U.S. are reeling from the opioid addiction epidemic, which has emerged as a major issue on this year’s campaign trail. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died from overdoses related to prescription opioids, including more than 14,000 in 2014. Today, at least half of opioid overdose deaths involve prescription opioids, which nearly 2 million Americans abused or depended on in 2014.

A source of hope for saving lives in this ongoing crisis is medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, the combination of buprenorphine and counseling that federal officials increasingly support. The administration recently raised the maximum number of patients that qualified practitioners can treat with buprenorphine from 100 to 275, while the military healthcare program expanded MAT coverage for substance-use disorders.

But in parts of rural America, where the epidemic has struck especially hard, MAT is rarely an option. Practitioners with the expertise and qualifications to help those with addiction are few and far between. And in most small towns, there remains a stigma against confronting the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction.

Read the full article, related research paper from the Journal of American Medicine and information on MAT from SAMHSA.

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A Huge Need for Dentists

Outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, dentists are becoming scarce in Minnesota.

“There is a huge need for dentists in greater Minnesota,” said Naty Lopez, assistant dean for admissions and diversity at the dental school. “Many are retiring, and there aren’t enough students returning to rural areas to take their place.”

As a partial response to the challenge, Lopez is spearheading a mentoring program to pair dental students with dentists in communities outside of the metro area.

Read the full article.

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Depending on a Ride


There was a time in Carol Barnes’ life when the prospect of losing her car would have worsened her already severe anxiety and depression. When she was struggling with her disorders during the mid-2000s, Barnes said, losing her only means of transportation would have meant losing access to her mental health providers.

Barnes isn’t alone. Transportation is often one of the biggest barriers for those in rural areas seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment, according to rural mental-health workers interviewed by Oklahoma Watch

Although health-care providers are exploring novel solutions to transportation issues, such as using iPads to consult with clients who can’t make it to the clinic, the problems could multiply as state budget cuts reduce existing services.

Read the full article.

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Mark Your Calendar

For more information about these and other events, visit the VRHA Calendar

November 3: Treatment Referral in an Opioid Crisis - webinar
November 9: Health System-wide Peer Program Opioid Crisis Best Practice - webinar
November 10: Virginia Oral Health Summit​ - Richmond
November 18: Dental Care Approaches for Adults with Disabilities - Wytheville
February 5-8: Rural Healthcare Leadership Conference - Phoenix, AZ
February 7-9: 28th NHRA Rural Health Policy Institute​ - Washington, DC

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Rural Health Information Technology Workforce Curriculum Resources 
Here you will find a complete inventory of curriculum resources, including detailed course descriptions and training materials, developed by Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Rural Health Information Technology (HIT) Workforce Program grantees.

Model Program: Medical-Legal Partnership of Southern Illinois
The Medical Legal Partnership of Southern Illinois (MLPSI) was formed to create a system where medical providers can refer patients in need of legal assistance to local attorneys. This model has an evidence-based rating of effective.

Rural Provider Leadership Summit Findings 
With the support of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP), the National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) hosted a Rural Provider Leadership Summit in Bloomington, Minnesota on May 23 - 24, 2016. A report with the findings of the Summit has been developed to assist rural hospital leaders in engaging rural health providers in the transition to value-based purchasing and population health.

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Funding Opportunities

For funding opportunities without a specific deadline, please visit the VRHA Resources page

Initiative for Effective Nonprofits 
The purpose of the Initiative for Effective Nonprofits is to strengthen the relationships, governance and management of nonprofit organizations so that the organizations will be more effective in developing, implementing and sustaining strategies, systems and programs to meet important needs within the community. The Initiative is a collaborative effort of community organizations, foundations and individuals within the Thomas Jefferson Planning District which includes Charlottesville and the Counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson.
Deadline: December 7

Rural Health Network Development Program
The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will award approximately $27 million over a three-year project period to support the Program’s goal of assisting rural health care providers in acclimating to the evolving health care environment, including delivery system reform and the focus on population health and value based payment. Eligible networks applying to this program will demonstrate that they have positioned themselves for these changes and must be mature, integrated health care networks that have combined the functions of the entities participating in the network in order to: achieve efficiencies; expand access to, coordinate, and improve the quality of essential health care services; and strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. Grantees under this program have used funds to address a variety of health care needs, including: integrating behavioral and oral health into primary care, creating health information exchanges, creating value based health care systems, and implementing tele health programs. 
Deadline: November 28

Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant
Grants to support a comprehensive public health approach to prevent suicide in institutions of higher education, including community colleges. The distribution of awards will be equitable in terms of geography (urban, rural, and remote settings), and balanced among populations of focus and program size.
Application Deadline: Dec 7, 2016 

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